Monday, 2 December 2013

An appeal to Molesey to support your local library

MP Dominic Raab, Pauline Morozgalska from the Friends
of Molesey Library, and Dep Mayor Barry Fairbank
MOLESEY is lucky to have an excellent library that is free to join and within easy reach.
When it was threatened with closure two years ago, the Molesey Conservatives' chairman Steve Bax teamed-up with town councillors and concerned residents to campaign for its survival, and have worked for its prosperity ever since as as part of the Friends of Molesey Library committee.
The Friends have raised money for new signs and equipment, arranged meet the author events and coffee mornings. Recently we obtained a grant to buy a picture hanging system to allow local artists to display their work in Molesey Library.
However the library has stiff competition from kindles and the internet (and customers with less time to read). Borrower numbers fell 5.8% in October compared to last year.
Although there is no immediate threat to the library we cannot be complacent. The best way to ensure our library’s future is to use it, so when you are next passing please pop in and take out a book or rent a DVD. You will be helping as the library is measured by Surrey CC on the numbers of books it loans.
Steve Bax said: "Molesey Library is a fantastic local resource, providing our town with free books and newspapers and free access to the internet. I have a supporter for a long time and my appreciation has grown in recent years since I have had young children.
"It is difficult to say with any certainty why library usage is declining. There are probably many factors but mainly I think its a time issue, as people with full time jobs and families often feel their leisure time is limited. But discovering a good book is extremely rewarding and well worth the investment."

Years of neglect and now Neilson’s Field bridge is to be demolished

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, according to the old saying.
The pedestrian footbridge leading from Green Lane into Neilson’s Field has been taped off after an engineer's inspection concluded that it was unsafe.
Reporting his findings to Elmbridge Council, the engineer noted severe corrosion of the steel underside and main support beam of the bridge. The protective paint had mostly peeled away and brick pillars were cracked and loose.
As a result of the “extensive” decay this once-attractive 1930s bridge has been deemed beyond “effective economical repair”.
The Molesey Conservative Residents consider that an option for refurbishment should be looked at rather than the bureaucratic knee-jerk tendency, all too prevalent in government these days, of complete demolition of infrastructure and rebuilding, with the result being the loss of more of Molesey’s historic architecture (and the cost to the tax payer of a new bridge).
Residents may wonder why the Nielson’s Field Bridge has been allowed to get into this badly run down state on the Molesey Residents Association’s watch? It has been obvious for years that it needed maintenance, yet it has been neglected to the point that it has had to be closed.
Routine works and applying a coat of weatherproofing paint every few years might have stopped the corrosion.
Why has the MRA, which has been the town’s sole political representation for years, and its 11 councillors, not taken up this issue years ago before it reached such a wasteful pass?

HGV lorries could be thundering through Molesey is recycling plant goes ahead in Hersham

PLANS for a food waste treatment plant just outside Molesey could result in a large increase in lorries passing through our town.
A company called Clean Power Properties is asking Surrey County Council for planning permission to build an ‘anaerobic digestion centre’ on the former Weylands sewage farm up by Hersham railway station.
If it goes ahead it is expected that 195,000 tonnes of rubbish would be delivered to the site each year, all of it via local roads.
Anerobic digestion involves large amounts of biodegradible waste being packed into a small confined space and broken down over several stages into a gas, which in turn can be used to generate electricity.
Whilst Molesey Conservatives support such innovation in our energy supply and waste disposal - increasingly important issues in the country - the traffic implications mustn’t be allowed to damage Molesey’s quality of life.
Conservative councillor Andrew Kelly, who has been campaigning as part of the Weylands No Way group, told the Molesey News: “There is no doubt the extra HGVs would make their presence felt across Elmbridge. And we won’t just have more HGVs, they would be bigger as well. I urge as many residents as possible to make sure Surrey County Council know that our area just can’t cope with the effects of the application.”
Some 2,500 residents have signed a petition against the plant. Their view, which is shared by Molesey Conservatives, is that a built-up residential area is a poor choice of location for a facility of this nature.
Elmbridge borough councillors were consulted over the proposals and raised a number of objections; among them was that the digestion plant would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt and that insufficient information had been provided on the potential impact of emissions on surrounding residential areas.
The applicant insists its plant will be less noisy, dusty or smelly than the existing recycling activity on the Weylands site.
Surrey County Council’s planning committee will make a decision on the proposals on February 26 next year. To find out more about the No Way campaign and to register your support, go to

Public meeting held over charity's plans to house homeless at Radnor House

RADNOR House, the former home for the elderly, in East Molesey could become a homeless shelter over the winter.
The Surrey charity Transform Housing and Support is asking Elmbridge Council for a temporary change of use, for the building to accommodate up to eight vulnerable people overnight from January to March next year.
But local residents, including in Hansler Grove (where Radnor House is located), are worried it could lead to drug addicts or ex-offenders descending on the area.
Since hearing of the plans I have been in contact with Conservative colleagues at the Elmbridge Council to press for more detail and to feedback Molesey’s concerns. The housing portfolio holder, Councillor James Browne, told me: “The intention is to provide shelter for vulnerable people who would otherwise be sleeping rough during the coldest time of the year. There would be up to eight individuals staying overnight at Radnor House, from 5.30pm until 8am - and two staff on site the whole time.”
Cllr Browne said the shelter would not continue beyond March as the council’s intention is to sell Radnor House as affordable housing.
Further assurances were offered to the community by council and Transform charity representatives at a packed public meeting in Molesey on November 25th, which I attended.
Key points which emerged were: that this is a pilot scheme with a view to setting up a permanent service away from Molesey; that the entrance in Walton Road would be used instead of the one opposite The Orchard School; that boarders would have to be referred to Radnor House and will not be able to turn-up unannounced; that they will not be able to come and go in the night; and there would be a bar on ‘certain types of offenders’ staying.
Andrea Cannon of Transform said: “Homelessness is an increasing problem in Elmbridge because people can’t pay their rents, or can’t find work so they lose their homes through no fault of their own.”
Elmbridge councillors are expected to decide in December whether Radnor House can be used as a temporary shelter. The Molesey News will continue to monitor this issue and keep residents updated.

Molesey Conservatives pay tribute to PC Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan in New York with police motorbike
Andrew Duncan in New York with police motorbike
THE funeral of PC Andrew Duncan in Molesey on October 11 was an event that will live long in the memory of our town.
Residents who lined the streets witnessed the spectacle of hundreds of police officers - including at the highest levels of the MET - arriving at St Mary’s Church to pay their respects.
So great were the numbers that the church could not accommodate all the mourners, and a marque had to be set-up in the car park close by.
Andrew tragically died as a result of doing the job he loved, when he was struck by a hit and run driver while on duty in Sutton. He was 47-years-old and leaves behind a wife and two children aged 17 and 14, whom he doted on.
Although the MET regarded Andrew as one of their own, he was first and foremost a son of Molesey, having grown up in Matham Road and attended The Orchard and St Lawrence schools. He continued to live here after he was married.
Andrew had a lifelong association with the scouts, and followed in the footsteps of his father John Duncan who has been a leader with the 1st Molesey Scouts on and off for 60 years. As a boy Andrew accompanied his parents to scout camps, before joining aged eight.
As a Sea Scout he found his passion for the water, while on land he was fond of motorbikes. He is pictured (above) on a family holiday to New York posing beside a police motorbike.
Andrew’s sister, Julia Williamson, told our newsletter The Molesey News: “Andrew’s fellow scout leaders talk about how he often gave up his own leave to help out whenever needed. He did not look for praise, he gave up his time selflessly. So many have benefited from the wealth of experience Andrew learnt through scouting.”
His dad John thinks the values of community and service which Andrew learned from the scouts probably persuaded him to join the police. He started on the beat in Battersea in 1990 and had served as a traffic officer since 2004.
His family will be launching a memorial fund in his name to raise money for local projects. They are assembling a team of Andrew’s family, friends and scouts to run the inaugural Hampton Court Half Marathon on 23 February 2014 and have a host of events planned.
Chief Superintendent Glyn Jones, who spoke at the funeral said: “Andrew made many notable arrests. On one occasion he managed to turn a stop in the street for an out of date tax disc into an arrest for a series of armed robberies. Andrew was exceptionally good at what he did.”
Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, added: “PC Duncan willingly chose to serve his community through his work as a police officer, and his passion as a volunteer scout leader. He was widely respected and well liked.”
The Molesey Conservatives would like to extend our sincere condolences to Andrew’s family and friends.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Repairs planned for Molesey roads

RESIDENTS of some of Molesey’s most potholed and worn-out streets can have some good news at last.
Surrey County Council is spending £100 million to overhaul and repair the roads network, and has announced that Molesey is to receive substantial attention in this programme over the next two years.

As part of the ‘Operation Horizon’ project of road-works, Hurst Road, Hurst Lane, Bedster Gardens, Bridge Road and Seymour Road are being resurfaced in the current municipal year. This will be followed in 2014/15 by repairs to Grove Road, Kent Road, Palace Road and Wolsey Road in East Molesey, and also to Island Farm Road and Poole Road in West Molesey.

During the spring election campaign this year I had the opportunity to meet and talk with substantial numbers of the electorate whilst canvassing door-to-door, and many residents told me that the deteriorating condition of the roads was a priority for them.

Some Molesey streets like Island Farm Road in the West, and Grove Road in the East side of town are in a very shabby state and have been so for far too long a time. I have been lobbying at County Hall over this issue and am glad that it’s now being addressed seriously by the authority.The action from the Conservative administration at Surrey follows a study by the Automobile Association last year which concluded that several seasons of unusually adverse weather - involving a sustained battering from the elements in the form of heavy rains, floods, and snow - had left nearly a fifth of the country’s roads requiring urgent maintenance.

In Surrey 17% of roads are classified as ‘poor’ and in need of structural repair - a surprising fact in one of the nation’s wealthiest counties.

The administration took the difficult decision to increase council tax by just under 2% in April to raise the revenue over the next four years to finance road repairs and as other pressing problems such as expanding educational provision.

In Elmbridge, £9million will be spent on roads, with almost 30 miles being resurfaced in around 100 separate projects. The council’s contract with May Gurney plc also involves a 10-year warranty for its work, meaning that if potholes reappear in that time frame the company must bear the cost of their servicing, not the tax payer.

Other roads to be resurfaced this year include First Avenue, Molesey Avenue and Langton Road, plus Molesey Park Road, Poole Road and Molesey Road, next year, and Orchard Lane, Boleyn Drive, The Crescent, Berkley Drive and Buckingham Avenue & Gardens in 2015.

It’s a relief to see that this area of Molesey’s infrastructure is at last being attended to.

Any issue about the structural condition of Molesey streets can be reported by emailing Surrey County Council at

Elmbridge Council doubles its investment in Mole Hall

I WELCOME Elmbridge Council’s decision to double the money it is investing in Mole Hall.

The council had planned to spend £200,000 to refurbish the hall in West Molesey’s Bishop Fox Way, as part of plans to relocate Molesey Day Centre and Meals on Wheels services there. But it has been able to secure an extra £60,000 from Surrey County Council, and will contribute more in turn from its own budgets to boost the total to £400,000.

Cllr Christine Elmer, Conservative cabinet member for social affairs, told me: “The extra money will allow us to install a suspended ceiling across the whole hall, remove the heating stacks, provide additional partitions and low level windows, and new lighting.

“This will be a high quality refurbishment. The work is due to begin in October with the centre being operational early next year.”

Christine confirmed that hall hirers have been personally consulted on the changes, and will continue to be. Molesey councillors have also been consulted via meetings with officers and cabinet members and the leader of the council.

Elmbridge Council is making the changes because Molesey Day Centre has outgrown its current home in School Road and needs to expand. At the same time Mole Hall was being hired only 27% of the time. But by combining the successful day centre & the hall it is believed the long term future can be secured of both.

There have been a few excitable rumours going around that Mole Hall could be sold for housing or even turned into pitches for travellers! Some of this uncertainty seems to a degree to have been got up irresponsibly by elements of the Molesey Residents Association, but it has not helped at the same time that the site featured on a list drawn up by civil servants of possible future development areas.

However, having lobbied on the matter I have received assurances that the future of Mole Hall is safe, and signficant investment of £400,000 should assuage any doubts (and gossip from certain green rosetted quarters) as to the councils’ commitment to the long-term future of Mole Hall, and am sure that it is here to stay.

I recently went around its exterior with a concerned resident and photographed broken gutters and the damaged fencing and having drawn them to the Council’s attention had it confirmed that this will be repaired with the refurbishment.

Conservatives support calls for a secondary school in Molesey

A CAMPAIGN for Molesey to have its own secondary school is gathering momentum in the town.

Some 443 people signed an online petition started by West Molesey mum Rebecca King and the issue made the front page of the Elmbridge Guardian paper in June.

Around 240 pupils currently leave Molesey’s four primary schools each year and have to travel to neighbouring Esher High or Rydens Academy in Walton (or further). This adds to the congestion on the roads whereas a school in Molesey would be in walking or cycling distance and be a healthier option.

This is also an issue about Molesey, a not insubstantial town, being able to ‘stand on its own two feet’ by providing for its own children rather than having to bus them out to neighbouring districts.

Rising birthrates have sent the demand for schools places soaring, and Surrey County Council is responding by spending at least £261million to expand provision.

I am of the view that it is time for a serious consideration of whether Molesey should have a high quality senior school again, after a 30 year gap since its last one was closed. The initial issues for debate are where a school might it be sited and how it would be funded.

I raised the matter with Cllr. Linda Kemeny, who is responsible for schools’ policy at Surrey County Council. She said the council is providing 870 places in four Elmbridge secondary schools. It forecasts the demand for places to reach a high point of 891 in 2015 but then fall to around 837 in 2019.

The official line from Surrey is that it believes it can address the demand by expanding existing schools and does “not feel there is a basic need for additional secondary school places in the Moleseys”.

So the way forward may be for local campaigners to appeal over the heads of Surrey, and seek funds from the government in order to open a free school. We will keep you updated, and you can find out more by searching for Secondary School for Molesey on Facebook.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Why you should cast your vote positively for Steve Bax today

This is it, Polling Day, the final day of the campaign and the most intense. I will be heading out to vote shortly and then going between the polling stations in East Molesey & Esher and meeting as many voters as I can.

If you are planning to vote today, thank you. I hope you will support me and can I assure you that no-one would work harder for this division if elected. My opponents put out a deeply cynical letter yesterday accusing the Conservative-led Surrey County Council of failing to invest in roads and schools - while knowing full well that only the Conservatives are pledged at this election to invest £100million in repairs and resurfacing over the next four years, and £261million to provide 12,000 additional school places - the biggest school building programme in Surrey's history.

Rather like the Labour party nationally, the Residents Association is full of criticism but offers no promises on what it would do if elected, other than bring an 'independent' approach. Remember these people -for all their protestations of not being political - are registered political parties and practice politics, only to claim to be above the process at election time. And they are no more or less local than any other candidate.

If you are thinking of voting for UKIP, perhaps out of frustration at one or more aspects of Government policy, please remember that today's election is about local issues - schools, libraries, roads, social services. UKIP's candidate has no record of local activity and has not put out a manifesto so we have no idea what he would or would not do for Surrey. We could end up with a councillor who knows he wants Britain out of Europe, but no plan about issues in Molesey, Esher or Surrey - nor much influence at County.

It looks like we're in for sunny weather so with any luck there will be a reasonable turn-out and if you are making the effort, I salute you!

Here's a quick reminder of where I stand:

  • Surrey County Council under its current Conservative administration is firing on all cylinders, and has set out bold and ambitious plans for the next four years.
  • These include a massive investment in our roads network to address potholes and surfacing problems, and responding to the acute need for classroom places in Surrey with the biggest school building programme in the county’s history.
  • Conservatives are pledged to protect libraries, support the elderly, create apprenticeships and boost households and businesses by investing in superfast broadband.
  • And we are cutting the cost of local government via efficiency initiatives that are on course to save £279million by 2016. 
  • It is critical that the next county councillor for East Molesey is able to secure as much of this investment money as possible for our local roads, schools and services. A Conservative councillor can do this.
  • The balance of power at Surrey is 56 Conservatives 13 Lib Dems and Residents Associations/others - RAs have an eighth of the seats and an eighth of the influence.
  • A vote for Steve Bax on May 2nd is a vote for a councillor who lives in Molesey, who campaigns on local issues all year around and not just at election time, who keeps you informed through candid newsletters, who will work in partnership with our residents association councillors, but with the added dimension of greater influence at County Hall.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

'East Molesey set for a commuter car deluge

Residential streets in East Molesey could be swamped by even more commuter cars than are currently there if development at the Jolly Boatman site goes ahead.

People already use Wolsey Road, Palace Road and surrounding streets as a free alternative to the expensive station car park, with roads filling with cars from 7am until 8pm and causing all sorts of difficulty and danger for residents trying to exit their drives.

Steve Bax is concerned that if the developer Gladedale and its partner Network Rail are able to start building a hotel, care home, flats and retail scheme on land around the station (including the Jolly Boatman site) this will result in the station car park being closed for many months, and it is less than clear whether railway users will have any alternative parking. If none are provided they will have no option but to spill out on to East Molesey streets making a bad situation a great deal worse.

Steve has been pressing Network Rail to say how it will accommodate its customers and eventually received a statement from the Network Rail and South West Trains Alliance, which was less than illuminating.

It said: “Whenever improvement work takes place on the railway, everything is done to minimise the disruption this causes passengers and local communities. As part of our plans to develop Hampton Court station, we will continue to work closely with the developer and local authorities so this approach continues and will provide information to passengers and the local community as soon as we are able to.”

Steve said: “Gladedale and Network received planning permission for their scheme 2008, regrettably in my opinion. But having had had four years to prepare, the railway is still unable to say whether or how it will provide parking during the construction - I find this astonishing. People will understandably wonder if there is a plan or if Molesey’s residential streets are being expected to take the place of the station car park.”

Before the development can go ahead, Gladedale has to satisfy Elmbridge Council that it has met 56 planning conditions, and if it is unable to commence building by June 16th then its planning permission expires. It will need to win an appeal against the council's rejection of its travel plan, which will be held on May 8th.

However the crucial thing is for Molesey to get its defences in place to safeguard against this commuter car onslaught. Steve advocates a 1-2 hour parking restriction in vulnerable streets, so that for a short time in the middle of the day (and only on weekdays) parking will be banned without a permit. Residents with drives would be able to use them and would not be affected, but all day commuters would be deterred. This would declutter roads and give a boost to local shops in Bridge Road, because potential customers would be able to park (likely for short periods of time) in Wolsey and Palace Road - something that is impossible at present due to the commuters, who are contributing nothing to the area.

The Molesey Residents Association opposes the solution put forward by Steve and the residents, and would be happy to stand by and allow the misery in these streets to continue. It holds 11 council seats yet will not take action when residents call for help. The argument put forward in the MRA's summer newsletter last year was that protection for Wolsey and Palace would only move the problem to other roads. There may be some truth in this, but common sense tells you that there are limits to amount of distance from the car park and extra journey time that commuters are prepared to accept, before they give up and go elsewhere.

Should the scheme go ahead and the car park close, streets that are not currently affected by the commuter issue could well be engulfed. It is better that East Molesey has a councillor who is prepared to take action and not stand by and allow problems to continue unchallenged. Our next Surrey County councillor will have a seat on the decision-making Local Committee which has the power to implement parking restrictions of the kind mentioned above, and Steve would call on the support of Conservative colleagues on the committee to address this situation.

One other solution would be for railway users to park in some of the empty bays at the Molesey town centre car park, thereby addressing the under use there. Perhaps Network Rail would be good enough to provide a shuttle bus for rush hours.

Canvassing at the station with Dominic Raab

Here's a photo of me at Esher Station with local MP Dominic Raab in between the showers on Friday. It was a very productive morning and I had the pleasure of meeting many voters and hopefully picking up some support. I suspect this election will be close and every vote will count. 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Meeting to discuss safety and congestion at the new Cranmere School

JUST got back from the public meeting at Cranmere School to discuss the traffic concerns when the school moves to Arran Way in Esher and undergoes expansion.

I would say the meeting was both constructive and frustrating - constructive because it allowed parents and residents a chance to hear about the safety and congestion issues that will result when the school entrance is switched to an area where parking is already severely limited, and HGV lorries pass through - and  frustrating as it was clear to all present that Surrey's proposed solutions are woefully inadequate.

Surrey will provide 37 staff parking spaces at the new school, but has refused to consider a parent drop off zone on site. Instead it proposes to create 80 parking spaces along the railway embankment in Douglas Road. My concerns about this - and which I raised at the meeting - would be that the 1.6metre bays will not be wide enough for children to climb out of cars on the safe side. Realistically parents will have to get them out at the roadside and put the children and themselves at risk from all of the passing traffic.

A better solution, I believe would be to carve out additional bays on the other side of the road, where residents already park on the verges. Some diagonal parking or modest inlets would be a big help - they wouldn't solve the problem completely, but they would alleviate to some degree, and would potentially resolve the parking on verges issues that residents face in any event.

I would like to see some additional parking bays created in Blair Avenue and Arran Way, and would - if elected - seek to use some of the community projects budget allocated to county councillors to provide equipment and disposal for members of the Lower Green community to come together and clear the entrance to the school footpath in Blair Avenue that has become overgrown with brambles and has rubbish and alcohol containers dumped in it.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Community effort to clear school's pedestrian access

So lovely to see the sun out at last. I have been delivering manifestos in the Esher Road and Bridge Road parts of Molesey and door knocking in Beauchamp Road. Nice to see some familiar faces there and the support has been generally very good.

At Blair Avenue in Lower Green part of the ward recently, I enjoyed speaking to residents and finding out about pigeon fancying (of all things!) but actually fascinating. I had a closer look at the pedestrian access to Cranmere School which is being reopened. Many of the residents have been helping to clear the alley and I commend their community spirit. There are still some pockets of blight though, where less considerate individuals have dumped rubbish over the fence by the garages, and part of the pedestrian entrance itself (pictured here) is full of undergrowth, general debris and alcohol bottles.

I am told the area often attracts young drinkers and I will discuss with the neighbourhood police team to take steps against any antisocial behaviour. I will shortly be meeting with representatives of Lower Green community centre and will raise the possibility of a community effort to clear and tidy this area.

My response to an RA article on parking charges

I have been mentioned by name on the Molesey Residents Association website! This is a new move for the MRA which usually prefers to deny its opponents the 'oxygen of publicity', but the temptation to score a political point appears may have been too great to resist.

It is in connection with Elmbridge putting up parking charges in April and my manifesto last year in which I said I would try to argue for free parking to be restored in Molesey town centre if elected. I still think there is a good case to be made because the car park makes an annual loss as many residents choose to park in residential streets, whereas on days when there are no charges the car park is full. Free parking could help congestion and perhaps the businesses too, but the difficulty is that the borough council has to pay a tax to the Government for every bay it operates, whether a car park is free or not, and without income this overhead would have to be met from our council taxes (plus of course the costs of lighting and maintenance - enforcement currently pays for itself). As budgets get tighter the revenues from car parks (around £1million a year) are becoming more and more vital for funding the council's non statutory services like meals on wheels.

So I have to be honest and say that the prospects of restoring free parking don't look too promising in the immediate future but I will continue to look for opportunities to make the case. I posted a comment along these lines on the MRA webpage on March 22 but it has still to be approved (as of April 21) so I've copy n pasted my response here.

I want to correct some misinformation above if I may. You have a direct quotation from me above saying “Free parking for our town centre!”. This is not what I said. The pledge in my manifesto of last year was actually to “Lobby Elmbridge Council to restore free parking at the Walton Road car park” and this is an important distinction.
Obviously it is not in the power of any individual to repeal parking charges, that requires a majority view at council. My promise to the people of Molesey East was no more, no less, than to try to persuade the Conservative group to introduce free parking at Walton Road. This is precisely what I would have done had I been elected.
It is disingenuous of the MRA to try to claim in its recent newsletter and to some extent here, that the Conservatives promised free parking in last year’s election and then cynically put up charges. The Conservative group hasn’t shifted its position in support of parking charges: it remains in favour as this helps to cover the cost of running and maintaining them.
My view as a local candidate may sometimes differ from the group – it’s called being my own man.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Delivering in West End and walking Lower Green

Nice to see the sun out on Saturday (for while anyway). It was a far cry from last weekend when my supporters and I, braved, wind, sleet and rain to get our newsletter through doors in Esher. If you've read it I would be interested to hear what you think.

While delivering in West End on the Saturday I took this photo of the  potholes in Winterdown Road and passed it on to Surrey County Council's Highways team. The Conservative administration at County Hall has promised to bring all of the county's roads up to a good standard within five years, and is spending £25million for a blitz on potholes. Surrey residents can report any roads that are in need of attention by emailing

On Thursday I was in Lower Green with local residents and Sharon Butler of Elmbridge Housing Trust (EHT), who own many of the properties in the Douglas Road area. We pointed out the lack of available parking which has resulted in residents having to park on grass verges, making them unsightly and having the potential to damage underground pipes. We made a case for additional parking bays to be created to address this existing problem, and warned that things will get a much worse when Cranmere School moves to land behind Arran Way and increases its intake from the current 390 to 630. This will bring hundreds of cars to these streets and could be unbearable for residents unless action is taken now.

The EHT view is that it has no money to spend on parking spaces but would be willing to accommodate Surrey County Council were the county to get its cheque book out. Muddying the waters a bit is the fact that many properties are in private hands and EHT would effectively be creating bays for those who are not its tenants (bays can be rented or sold to private residents of course, covering the cost). I personally believe BOTH Surrey and EHT will need to contribute to a solution and I will - with parents and local residents - keep up the pressure for a solution to be in place before the expanded Cranmere School opens in 2015. Surrey has said it will pay for bays along the railway side of Douglas Road, with a figure of 80 mentioned, but the location is less than ideal as space is limited and would require parents and children to get in and out of vehicles while exposed to the passing traffic (and lorries). A worrying situation.

A meeting is being arranged between all interested parties - parents, residents, police, EHT and Surrey - hopefully at Cranmere School in late April or early May. I'll post more details as I have them.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Moving the memorial will ensure dignity

Steve Bax and Esher ward councillors have recruited a decorated local army veteran to help with a plan to move the war memorial to the centre of Esher Green.

We think public safety could be improved on Remembrance Sunday if people didn't have to stand in the road and services would be more dignified away from the passing traffic. So we have teamed up with John Handford OBE, a retired colonel from Esher to draw up plans and raise funds with a view to moving the memorial by 2014 - the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.

Mr Handford was with the Parachute Regiment and served in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland. He said: “I am driving this forward on behalf of our community who I know respect our Armed Forces and particularly those that have fallen over the years.”

The memorial will remain in the line of sight from Church Street and will not be enhanced or embellished.
Esher councillor David Archer has obtained a quote for £14,000 for the work and said the money will come from fundraising rather than the public purse.

Congestion and safety concerns in Lower Green

Steve Bax has been meeting with parents who are concerned about the congestion and safety issues that could result from plans to expand Cranmere Primary School.

Surrey County Council is responding to an urgent need for more classroom places by building a new Cranmere on land behind Arran Way in Lower Green (pictured) , which will accommodate up to 630 pupils and a nursery when it opens in 2015. That is potentially a lot of school run cars and there is barely enough parking capacity in nearby roads as it is, as evidenced by people parking on grass verges.

Cranmere Community Traffic Concern (CCTC) is group formed of local residents and Cranmere parents who are calling on the council to address the parking situation as part of the school redevelopment. They would like a drop-off zone on the school grounds with an exit to Farm Way, and extra spaces created in Douglas Road for residents. There is also a concern about the safety of children from lorries which regularly use Douglas Road on their way to and from the industrial estate.

Steve has teamed up with CCTC to help make progress on this issue. We have raised our concerns with John Farrer, the project manager of the new Cranmere, down at the scene and are in talks with Elmbridge Housing Trust about creating additional parking capacity in Douglas Road. This may require funding assistance from Surrey CC which Steve will be in a position to push for if elected.

He said: "The new school will be a superb modern facility for the children and the wider community. But it is vital that Surrey addresses the very real concerns about congestion and children’s safety that will most certainly arise from moving the school to Arran Way. I am - and will be - pressing for joined up thinking on this issue."

Recently Surrey Police has written to residents asking them not to park on the grass verges. Nobody wants to see the verges turned into a messy quagmire, as has been happening, but Steve's view is that enforcement would not be helpful at this time. Far better to wait until additional capacity has been created.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Conservatives plan major changes at Mole Hall

ELMBRIDGE’S Conservative-run council is to invest £200,000 on refurbishing Mole Hall as part of plans to merge it with the Molesey Centre for the Community.

The council hopes the move will address the under-use of Mole Hall in West Molesey (which is currently hired only 27% of the time) and provide a bigger community centre with enhanced kitchen and catering facilities, to meet the demand for Meals on Wheels and centre meals which has soared since the service was featured by TV chefs the Hairy Bikers.

The centre’s current home in School Road, East Molesey, cannot be developed due to lack of space, plus it is adjacent to Radnor House sheltered home, which is at the end of its natural life and is being closed by Elmbridge Housing Trust.

Councillor Christine Elmer, cabinet member for social affairs, said: “As a council we recognise that the Molesey Centre building no longer meets the requirements for a fully functioning ‘centre for the community’ and it is unable to offer the range that our other centres offer.“By creating a fit for purpose facility at Mole Hall there will be room to expand the Molesey Centre facility. Its visitors, volunteers and staff will be able to enjoy an exciting new home.”

Councillor Jan Fuller, the leisure portfolio holder, is also driving the project forward together with Cllr Elmer. She added: “By putting the day centre and Mole Hall together we are ensuring the future of both. We are trying to give the day centre a new lease of life, and offer Mole Hall’s present and future hirers a better facility.”

The council will install a retractable partition in the hall area so that day centre users can occupy one side on weekdays from 9am to 5pm, and hirers can use the other. In the evenings and at weekends the hall can extended to its full size.

Two windows will be added to the hall’s far wall in order to let in more natural light, and a new serving area and hatches will be created and the kitchen refurbished to meet all catering requirements. In the longer term Mole Hall could have an extension built on to the side so that additional classes can be offered to the community.

The council has also spent £40,000 on a new mini-bus to transport East Molesey residents to Mole Hall in the West, although Cllr Elmer said a large number of Molesey Centre users already come from West Molesey.

The plans have received cross-party support, including from Molesey councillors, but some Mole Hall hirers and residents remain opposed and have called for the Molesey Centre to be rebuilt next to Mole Hall rather than accommodated inside.

Cllrs Fuller and Elmer said this would be more expensive and would not address the problem of Mole Hall’s under usage. There is also a wish to model the considerable success at Thames Ditton of providing a Centre and hired hall under one roof.

Cllr Elmer has said publicly that plans are still being worked on and every effort will be made to ensure classes such as dancing and keep fit will continue at Mole Hall.

The council has promised to consult with users and listen to concerns, and has assured that ‘none of the details are set in stone’.

Council leader calls on Elmbridge to 'give a little to get a lot'

Councillor John O'Reilly, leader of Elmbridge Council

ELMBRIDGE Council leader John O’Reilly is calling on residents to ‘give a little to get a lot’ after announcing that council tax will have to go up this year to safeguard frontline services.

The borough is planning a ‘modest increase’ of just under 2% in its portion of the council tax, after concluding that this would be better than making cuts that might have a detrimental effect on services.

This, in addition to a small rise in parking charges, will generate an extra £450,000 for the borough, but it will still need to save £1.1million in the next financial year.

Cllr O’Reilly (pictured) said: “Your Conservative administration has frozen the borough part of the council tax for five years in the last six, and at the same time we’ve achieved £6million savings with no impact on services.“Every so often a modest increase is needed to protect the services residents value, but rest assured we will continue to bear down on costs as we always have.”

He added the council is facing pressures from reduced government funding and a drop in income as its investments in high interest accounts reach maturity.

Elmbridge is looking at a number of capital investments that could generate money in future years and reduce the need for further tax rises.

Council tax is split three ways between the borough, police and Surrey County Council, with all three authorities able to raise or lower their demands each April.

Barclays is closing its branch in West Molesey

WEST Molesey is to lose its only bank after Barclays announced its intention to close the branch on the corner of Walton Road and High Street.

It wrote to customers to notify them that the branch will shut from April 5th, and the nearest alternative will be two miles away at Hampton Hill. The bank has not revealed the reasons for its decision.

A resident said in an email to us: “This is appalling. There are many people in West Molesey, who are disabled, elderly, and have no transport.”

If you will be affected Molesey Conservatives would like to hear from you. Please email or post a comment below.

No reprieve for Molesey Police Station

SURREY'S new Police & Crime Commissioner has halted the sell off of police stations - but unfortunately not in time to save ours in East Molesey.

Kevin Hurley is keen to see disused stations being turned into affordable homes for police officers, but said in Molesey's case "this disposal was too far advanced for further consideration to be possible."

He told us he does not know the details of the disposal yet, but we are looking into it.

School places squeeze: Hurst Park School could move to bigger site

Hurst Park School in West Molesey could be moving

SURREY County Council is thinking of moving Hurst Park School from it’s current home by the river to a disused site further up the Hurst Road.

It is working on draft proposals for a new building at the former John Nightingale School site, which is about 5-10 minutes walk from the current school, and one and a half times the size.

Details are still to be worked out, such as programme schedules and budgets, plus what would happen to the existing school. But Hurst Park School governors are looking at the proposals positively.

Chairman Chris Johnson said: “The view of the Governing Body is that the proposal has merit and the opportunities afforded by the proposal for the current and future children of Molesey should not be missed. The Governing Body will assist wherever possible in ensuring that the final proposal meets best practice and provides the best facilities available for the school’s pupils.”

Governors are to hold a meeting with parents to discuss the move.

Elmbridge shows the third highest increase in births in Surrey since 2002 - at 28.9%. And the number of pupils entering Reception at borough schools shot up from 1,209 in 2006 to 1,434 in 2011, by 7.5 additional forms.

The county has already created 60 new classroom places at The Orchard in East Molesey, and three new classrooms at Hurst Park in West Molesey.

The latest projections from Surrey County Council, seen by Molesey Conservatives, suggest 216 additional primary school places will be needed to accommodate Molesey children by 2021.

By 2020 the county council believes it will need to have created 1,406 new primary places in Elmbridge borough and 530 secondary places.

Steve Bax of the Molesey Conservative Residents, said: “The likelihood is that unless Molesey’s existing schools can be sufficiently enlarged to cope with the upward trend, more and more parents will be forced to commute further. This is hardly ideal at a time when we should be encouraging walking to school to improve the health of our children and reduce congestion on our roads.”

What is your view? Are you concerned about the rapid expansion of your school, or have you had to enroll your children outside of Molesey due to a lack of spaces? Please post a comment.